Thursday, May 18, 2017

Soup and Cake





This morning I read a quote so striking that I started to cry immediately upon reading it.

I have no doubt each one of us would move the earth for the people in those photos on our kitchen walls. But so often we don’t want to scare them with our power to bless and heal, so we move the world in increments of soup and cake. They may never even recognize the universe has been realigned for their good. It may be that our mother does glorious things right in front of us every day so often that she blinds us with commonness. Maybe she serves the whole world soup and cake every night.--Sharon Eubank

Has that ever happened to you? For me, it happened on the phrase "blinds us with commonness."

I still can't quite get over it.

And so I thought I would celebrate this concept with a few of my favorite soup and cake recipes. Serve it to the world every night.

Most of them are simple. A little life changing. At least day changing.

5 Favorite Soups

1. Creamy Tomato Basil Soup (Easy)

2. Meatball Soup. (Easy)

3. Moroccan Carrot Soup (Easy)

4. Thai Soup (Some weird ingredients, but totally worth it. Once you get the ingredients, it's easy)

5. Creamy Cheese Potato Soup (Beyond easy)

Okay--so I was going to rate those--you know, like intermediate, hard, easy, etc. Apparently, I only make easy soups. You should too. These are less than 30 minutes each to make, several of them closer to 15-20 minutes.


15 Favorite Cakes (How could I even choose? Clearly, I couldn't (though, truthfully, there's hordes more cake than this on my blog; I really did pick my favorites). You get a lot of cake from a lot of different, er, food groups. Spread them through the world, people.)




1. Best Chocolate Cake (Intermediate)

2. Best White Cake (Intermediate)

3. Carrot Cake (Easy)

4. Orange Bundt Cake (Intermediate)

5. Diana's Apple Cake of Awesomeness (Easy)

6. Peanut Butter Cake  (Easy)

7. Julia Child's Chocolate Almond Cake (Intermediate-hard)

8. Kentucky Caramel Butter Cake (Intermediate, a little harder if you make your own caramel)

9. Red Velvet Cake (Easy)

10. Wacky Cake (Dumb easy)

11. Coconut Cake (Intermediate)

12. Flourless Chocolate Cake (Easy)

13. Lemon Layer Cake (Intermediate) (Note: There is a lemon bundt cake and a lemon sheet cake on this blog, both of which I also consider noteworthy.)

14. Chocolate Volcano Cake (Easy)

15. Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake. (Intermediate.) Noteworthy for the amazing peanut butter frosting if nothing else.

Nothing says, "I think I have a problem" more than trying to list your favorite cakes. Oh dear.

But, seriously, is there any other food that feels like quite the act of love like making cake and soup.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Caramel Kentucky Butter Cake





I've had my eye on Kentucky Butter Cake for a while. Generally, those southerners know how to do both butter and cake, so it seems like a winning combination. But the thing that really pushed me over the edge was the caramel version I stumbled upon. Oh, that, and turning 40. Every 40-year-old needs something buttery, caramel-y, and southern on her birthday, don't you think? (It's that, or you go on some vegan wrinkle-fighting diet; I opted for the cake and wrinkles.)

It was fantastic in every way. And also not very difficult to make. I did mess my caramel up just a smidgeon so that it was a bit grainy, and the cake was still fantastic. In fact, the crunchy, delicious sugar didn't hurt it at all, and might have even made it better.

This cake uses a flavored creamer instead of milk. In the original recipe, it used an all-natural creamer with real milk and cream and stuff. That seemed positively righteous, and I intended to do the same thing. But then I accidentally bought the regular old fake kind of creamer. And it was still delicious.

So make this. I bet you can even mix up creamer flavors and toppings if you want. The possibilities....



Caramel Kentucky Butter Cake
adapted from Wishes and Dishes (how birthday appropriate)
Prep time: 30 minutes for cake and caramel
Cook time: 50 minutes
Cost: $5.50
flour: .45, sugar: .55, creamer: 1.00, butter: 2.00, eggs: .40, vanilla: .35, cream: .75

Cake:

3 C all-purpose flour
2 C white sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1 C caramel coffee creamer (I used International Delight brand; they also make a "Pure" version with whole foodsy ingredients)
1 C butter (in somewhat melty state)
2 tsp vanilla
4 large eggs

Butter Sauce:

3/4 C white sugar
1/3 C butter
3 Tbsp caramel coffee creamer
2 tsp vanilla extract

Caramel (for topping):

1 C sugar
3/4 C heavy cream (warmed)
3 1/2 Tbsp butter
1 tsp vanilla
crunchy salt to taste (about 1 tsp)

Preheat oven to 325. Grease a 10-inch (standard) bundt pan--like, grease the heck out of it with a spray on grease. Nothing else works quite as well.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and cream of tartar.

To this add coffee creamer, butter, vanilla, and eggs, beating after each addition.

(See, you're done with the cake. Wasn't that ridiculously easy?)

Pour into your extremely well-greased bundt pan.  Bake for 50-60 minutes or until a fork inserted comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs.

When it comes out of the oven, let it sit, and prepare the butter sauce:

Combine sugar, butter, caramel creamer. Heat until the sugar is dissolved (this is where mine got a little messed up; my sugar didn't completely dissolve), but don't let it boil (although life would probably go on if you did--probably). Take off heat and whisk in the vanilla.

Poke holes into the cake while it's still in the bundt pan. Then pour this beautiful butter sauce all over it, nice and slow, getting the sauce into the holes.

Now you're going to let the cake cool (or mostly cool) in the pan. I know you're afraid because it's always hard to get cakes out after they cool, especially bundt cakes. But I promise you that this worked for me, so it will work for you too.

When it's cool, turn it over on your serving platter.

Now you can make the caramel, which is always a pain in the butt, but worth it because homemade caramel is the best.

Add sugar to a large skillet. Let it get hot and melt, stirring occasionally. It might form some pesty chunks, but that's okay. Eventually it will turn a dark amber color. When it does, add cream and butter. Whisk in. There may be a few hard masses that don't dissolve. That's okay. Just remove them with a spoon.

Let your caramel cool somewhat and then pour or spoon it over your cake. I then sprinkled it with chunky sea salt.

I also made a chocolate ganache (1 C chocolate chips, 1/2 C cream, melt in microwave and stir), but it's not pictured here because it was ugly (but delicious, but ugly, but unnecessary, but still delicious).

PRINTABLE RECIPE


Monday, May 1, 2017

Carrot Cake--Photo Redo




This week, for book club, we discussed The Girl Who Drank the Moon. I was planning to make homemade moon cakes as the treat. I googled them. I pinned them. But then I just didn't want to make them. I wanted to make homemade carrot cake instead. I wanted to bad. And so I did.


And then I realized that the pictures on this blog were from six years ago and that seemed very wrong, since I could barely take a picture at all back then. So today I present you with the best carrot cake. And some new pictures to go with it.

Carrot Cake
adapted from Blue Ribbon Recipes
Serves: many (probably about 30)
Prep time: 10 minutes (with food processor)
Cook time: 25 minutes
Cost: $1.90 (not bad for 3 layers)
(carrots: .75, oil: .24, sugar: .32, eggs: .40, flour: .18, other stuff: .01)

1 1/2 C oil
2 C sugar
4 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 C flour
3 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp baking soda 
1 tsp salt
3 C grated carrots (just a bit shy of 1 lb)

Heat oven to 325. Grease three 9-inch pans and put wax paper on the bottoms, then grease again. 

Mix oil and sugar. Mix in eggs and vanilla.

Sift flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. Mix it into the creamed mixture. Add the carrots, a bit at a time so as to avoid getting a huge clump of them somewhere (your kids will never go for that).

Pour batter evenly into the cake pans. The batter will be shallow. I suppose you could probably get it into two pans (though I can't 100% guarantee that), but I like to have the extra frosting. I guess I'm a bit of a frosting lush. Don't tell, okay. 

Bake for 22-25 minutes or until a fork comes out clean. Let cool for 10 minutes in the pans and then turn out on a rack (or some parchment paper or waxed paper on your counter top if you don't have a rack). Let cool completely and then frost. 

Cream Cheese Frosting
from The New Best Recipe Cookbook (with an orange cream cheese adaptation from me)
enough for 3 layers
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cost: 3.10
(cream cheese: 2.20, sugar: .40, butter: .70)

2 packages of cream cheese (16 oz. total), softened
10 Tbsp butter, softened
2 Tbsp sour cream
2 1/2 C powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Beat together cream cheese, butter, and sour cream. Add vanilla. Beat in powdered sugar.

An option for Orange Cream Cheese Frosting

Add the zest from one small orange and 2-3 Tbsp of orange juice to make orange cream cheese frosting. 

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